James Thompson was a national level cyclist, before a serious crash in 2014 left him unable to walk, talk or eat. Two years later, he completed an Ironman challenge, one of the toughest sporting events in the world. His courage, resilience and determination to use his experiences to inspire others have been recognised with an Edge Hill Excellence Scholarship.
“I suffered a severe brain injury in the accident and was in a coma for two weeks,” recalled James, a first year Sport and Exercise Science student. “When I woke up I was paralysed down my right side and doctors told me it was unlikely I would return to a normal life.”
James refused to accept this and strived to get better, setting himself physical, mental and social goals. Within two years of the accident, he had completed Ironman Wales – consisting of a 3.6km swim, 180km bike ride and 42km run – and also achieved three A-Levels. On top of this, he was made Head Boy of his school, became an ambassador for Lance Armstrong’s charity, Livestrong, raised funds for the Walton Centre, where he undertook his rehabilitation, and remained a devoted father to his daughter, Anna.
“I think after nearly losing everything in a moment, it made me realise every moment matters,” said James. “I try to fill as much of my time with things as I can so that if tomorrow never came I would know I’ve done all I can to be happy. I get bored pretty easily too which means I don’t stop!”
Through his work with Livestrong, James gives frequent talks to inspire people who are facing cancer or other trauma, and was selected to travel to Austin, Texas to talk about his experiences.
Mr Ridway, James’ teacher at Deyes High School, said:
“It is testament to his character that he has managed to achieve such amazing progress in his recovery. You would not know what he’s been through if you were to meet him today. His fitness is exceptional, and he is articulate and thoughtful.”
“I was made up to receive the scholarship. It means that I can keep entering new events to push myself and inspire others.”